Lost Art Found

Stephen Mead

The found object is also the finding one in the science of time meets person meets location. Many sculptors who work in metals keep large scrap piles in their yard. They never know when the light might shine just right on a particular piece. Assemblage artists often scour streets, alleys, shores, the sides of roads, their eyes the precise ones of owls and their fingers Geiger counting. Collage artists stockpile paper scraps torn from magazines or found in boxes of bequeathed memorabilia. Seamstresses and tailors hoard fabric; knitters, yarn.

Think of Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold, or the little thrill of finding the most perfect cashmere coat in a thrift shop; even before trying it on, you know the fit will be fine. Even if you can’t afford to move, if you rearrange the furniture, change the color of couch covers or curtains, maybe the urge to get going will abate for a while. I read of a family who was so poor that all they could afford were cardboard furnishings. They shellacked, they varnished, they polished, and the tones of beige shone honeyed gold.

Set along the stair banister in my hallway is a long table top, hand-made I assume.  Perhaps it was a school project or some other hobby that’s gone out of fashion. I found it waiting for the dump truck, someone feeling that its usefulness had been outlived. Still, they were thoughtful enough to bag up its legs and tape them to the back. It was its inlaid tiles, framed by a dark oak, which caught me. There are four of them, perfect foot and a half squares of smoky ochre. Each is cut into a design which fits with its neighbor jigsaw-geometrical: octagons within circles within triangles within ellipses. The whole thing looks, at moments, Byzantine, a fragment of a temple continuing to find some part in me which I did not know that I had lost.


A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. His latest P.O.D. amazon release is an art-text hybrid, “According to the Order of Nature (We too are Cosmos Made)”, a work which takes to task the words which have been used against LGBT folks from time immemorial. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in a site called Poetry on the Line.

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